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Miral Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 12, 2011
  • List Price: $39.98

[amazon-product]B004XH9X2M[/amazon-product]

Purchase Miral on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

The controversy surrounding Julian Schanbel’s (Basquiat; Before Night Falls) film Miral has been downright astounding. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal, it has been called one-sided, propaganda, anti-Semitic, and just about everything in between. The story centers on a Palestinian orphan (Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire) growing up during the Arab-Israeli war who would eventually be drawn into the conflict, redeemed only by her time at a school setup by Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass) and the education she would garner there.

The film begins with a quick backstory, showing us how Hind came to start her orphanage and school in East Jerusalem in 1948 with a group of orphaned Palestinian children driven from their homes by Israeli soldiers and quickly jumps forward to Miral’s mother as a troubled young woman being molested, running away from home and landing in prison with a six month sentence for slapping an Israeli woman on a bus. After being released from prison, she marries Miral’s father, Jamal (Alexander Siddig; TV’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), but her drinking problem is a constant burden and she eventually kills herself. There’s a brief story of Jamal’s sister, who was also in prison serving three life sentences for a terrorist bombing, but then we get to Miral’s story, briefly as a young girl, and then as a teenager. As a schoolgirl who witnesses the demolition of a home by the Israeli army, Miral becomes more interested in politics and the plight of the Palestinian people, eventually meeting an activist boyfriend who will lead her deeper into the world of militant resistance against the Israelis.

Visually, the film is quite breathtaking. Schnabel uses various differences in saturation and film stock to imply changes in time and mood. Unfortunately, the film itself feels rather confined. It’s like an epic drama that has been crammed into too little space longing to stretch out and breathe. There is not enough time spent on each period, therefore leaving us with little knowledge of the motivation behind certain actions, situations, and the main character’s ultimate growth as a person.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Miral is a visually pleasing film from an artistic standpoint and its palette is presented here in fine form. The 35mm source is practically as clear as crystal and has an extra fine grain texture at times. At times, it is purposely made to look a bit grittier or a bit more diffuse through the use of filters and so on. Either way, this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Anchor Bay is top notch, bringing out all the nuance of the Middle Eastern sunlight, the crevices in people’s faces and dust blowing in the wind.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is quite subtle, to say the least. I wish more had been done here to bring out the atmosphere of the many outdoor scenes or some of the riot/protest scenes, but, alas, there are timid surround channels and a pretty narrow stereo field across the front. Still, it’s clean, and natural in sound with no hint of clipping in the dialogue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

There are a strong slate of features here offering plenty of interviews with Julian Schnabel, Rula Jebreal, and Freida Pinto, in addition to an interesting commentary and some deleted scenes.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Feature Commentary with Director Julian Schnabel and Producer Jon Kilik
  • Deleted Scenes (2.35:1; 480i/60):
    • Wrapping the Body
    • Hind & Family Discuss Leaving Jerusalem, 1948
    • Arabs & Israelis Celebrate Oslo Agreements, Documentary Footage
  • The Making of Miral (1.78:1; 480i/60; 00:14:07)
  • Julian Schnabel Studio Tour (1.78:1; 480i/60; 00:07:23)
  • Filmmaker Q&A (1.78:1; 480i/60; 00:31:50)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

All controversies aside, I found it quite interesting to see a film being told from the perspective of the female Palestinians, which is unusual to be sure. But Miral is ultimately unfulfilling in its execution, which is what makes it only an average film, not anything to do with its perceived political leanings.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product]B004XH9X2M[/amazon-product]

Purchase Miral on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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